Children in those days knew, as children in these days have forgotten, that the world is a dark place full of nooks and crannies where the light will never reach. They were regaled with fairy tales of kings that fell due to their own hubris, lost dear ones devoured alive by the spirits of the forest they had once mocked, and fearful creatures of bright shadow who served to tempt the unwary. One thing that was the same, then as now, was the need to cloak a lesson in the guise of a tale.

But the lessons to be learned were harsher, and the abiding concern was that the lesson was learned, not how well the child liked the story.

That world still exists, insulated from the children of today by the comforting and ephemeral cloak of modernity. But the tales have changed, and the young ones are less wary than they might have been in another time, another age. The darkness has had to grow darker as well, turned in on itself by many long, lean years. And it must compete. What pied piper out of the old stories can compete with those the children see every day on the television? What false promises can a Rumplestiltskin spin into gold when falser promises issue from every mouth a young dear one sees? What wolves can invade a home with evil intent when so many things that might devour a soul are invited in willingly?

So beware, oh best beloveds. For when the darkness finds you, it will be a hungry darkness with claws and teeth ground sharp against the whetstone of the waking world.

Let me tell you of one such darkness, and the terror it wrought. Draw near, and listen to the oil-dark telling of a fairy tale of old entering into the new.

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